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Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Life can be all activity. We have worries, tasks, questions and goals to work on. Those breaks in our day are few. It could be the end of the day, or a 15 minute opening in your schedule. Whatever is available, that is when you need to rest your tired limbs and mind.

So you sit in front of a TV and watch a CSI marathon. Or you take a TMZ.com break and scan through the latest gossip. That is what you and I call rest…and that is why you are resting all wrong.

We think we will rest by just taking away what made us tired. It makes logical sense, right? If you have a thorn in your thumb that is causing you pain, and you can remove that pain by simply removing that thorn. But the body and mind don’t always work that way.

Have you ever felt a bit numb or maybe even more tired after doing something mindless, like watching TV or staring at your office’s ceiling? Yeah, me, too. This means you weren’t truly resting.

There are three approaches to to get the rest you need, and they are all based on how your body and mind work on a biological level. These are: Acceptance, Change and Surrender.

Acceptance

Tiredness and stress build throughout time. This is called the allostatic load. Your mind owns this load, like an ever-growing to-do list. Every time a new item you need to consider comes up, it gets added to this to-do list.

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As you are already guessing, this affects your attempts to let go of all that stuff. Your mind will continue to run laps around that list unless you do something about it.

One way of shifting your mind’s “attention” is to Accept the reality you are in. When you are caught up in the milieu of things you don’t recognize that milieu. You just keep running; we keep chugging away.

This is where mindfulness can help. Being mindful means being aware of what is happening right now. It also means you are able to detach yourself from the hubub running around you. It’s as if you ceased to become You, the busy bee, and instead were watching You, The Busy Bee, the movie. You achieve an awareness beyond your to-do list–you transcend it.

This probably all sounds meta, but there’s a way you can easily achieve this, and that is through meditation. Meditation helps put you in that state of mindful awareness (among other great benefits). You rise above the taxing reality around you. You go to a space where you can breathe, in every sense of the word. Being aware of what is happening now helps release the tension and tiredness that comes with it.

Studies show that 15 minutes of meditation provide you the same amount of rest as one hour of sleep. That is how powerful of a restful reboot you can get from Accepting your reality.

Change

But the world keeps spinning. If you are not in a mindful space, walking away from something does not mean you have completely let it go. That’s not how you work.

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Our minds are great at focusing on something (finding an earring, chasing a goal). They’re not good at focusing on nothing (that is why negative goals like, “I will lose weight,” are hard to stick to). This is called absence blindness. Our minds have trouble holding onto what’s out of focus.

When you stop doing the work that has wiped you out and do nothing instead, your mind doesn’t follow along. It can’t focus on absence, so it keeps working on what was there before–the stuff you are trying to get rid of.

This is where Change helps. Just like working a muscle, you give that muscle rest by switching your efforts to another muscle. Instead of taking away, you re-direct the course of the snowball.

Winston Churchill, a man who led a nation through WWII and fought off the Nazis’ attempt to destroy his country (i.e. he was probably quite busy), said this about how we approached resting:

Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it […] The tired mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not merely enough to switch off the lights which play upon the main stage […] a new field of interest must be illuminated. […] It is only when new cells are called into activity, when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded. – Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime

If you spent hours working on your computer, go for a jog.

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If you are tired of doing house chores, do some doodling outdoors.

If you spent the whole day doing mindless, monotonous work (which can most definitely wipe you out), do something mentally stimulating, like writing, or taking free online classes.

If you spent the whole day trying to outsmart Hitler, do some painting.

Work out a different part of yourself. It might seem counter-intuitive–replace work with more work?!–but it does the trick. You’ll not only stay active in a fulfilling way, but you’ll give that other part of you some much needed rest.

Surrender

Sometimes it’s all too much. You don’t want to center yourself. You don’t want to scribble or learn about anything. You just want to pass the heck out. Which means you should.

Fatigue is real. It’s not just being tired, it is being chronically tired. Your body is going into preservation mode (it can even cause bouts of depression).

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The only way to approach this is to surrender to your needs. Surrender is often thought of as a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you gave up. It means you’re bowing out for your greater good.

Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing – Eckhart Tolle

To surrender means to shut down, i.e. sleep. It can also mean to indulge: give yourself a bubble bath, drink some hot cocoa and listen to music, or drink a beer and take a nap. Take care of yourself as if you were sick, because you kind of are. Just like when you have a cold or are injured, do what makes you feel good and helps you recover. Whatever you need to get yourself out of the red, you must do it now.

I encourage you to try these approaches today. Tweet at me to let me know how they’ve helped you get the rest you need.

In mindfulness, thrive.

Featured photo credit: Val Gardena Groden Marketing via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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